Lilydale Heights Secondary College finds time to read and achieve

A reading program is encouraging Lilydale Heights Secondary College students to read independently in class and at home, increasing literacy learning and harmony in the classroom.

The initiative has had a big impact on students, improving their classroom work and instilling a new interest in books.

'I never liked to read. Now, I find reading interesting', a Lilydale Heights Secondary College student says.

'At home, I read a book after I finish my homework. I'm getting better at spelling and grammar. School is a lot more fun!'

The Independent Reading Program

In 2015, Lilydale Heights Secondary College NAPLAN results were below the state average and teachers had found that students did not read outside of school.

To tackle the issue, the school established the Independent Reading program for Year 7 students, before progressively expanding the program to Years 8 to 10 students.

The program encourages students to sit quietly for 20 minutes at the start of class and read a book of their choice.

Each week, the timeslot is rotated across classes and year levels to create variety and to allow for lesson planning.

Students keep a reading log, and a mentor teacher monitors the level and age appropriateness of the reading material.

Change through reading

Today, Lilydale Heights Secondary College is in the top 20 per cent for growth from Year 7 to 9 in both reading and writing, when compared to other similar schools. 

'There is plenty of anecdotal evidence of students who have rarely engaged with books now enjoying the 20 minutes of independent reading during class time and even spending time reading at home, which some parents say they have never done before,' says Principal Rosina Fotia.

She also says that teachers have been pleasantly surprised by the impact on their students and classrooms.

'Staff are enjoying the benefits of quiet independent reading and have reported that the program has a settling effect on class behaviour,' Ms Fotia says.

Literacy Leaders across the school

 

Today, Lilydale Heights Secondary College is in the top 20 per cent for growth from Year 7 to 9 in both reading and writing, when compared to other similar schools. 

'There is plenty of anecdotal evidence of students who have rarely engaged with books now enjoying the 20 minutes of independent reading during class time and even spending time reading at home, which some parents say they have never done before,' says Principal Rosina Fotia.

She also says that teachers have been 'pleasantly surprised' by the impact on their students and classrooms.

'Staff are enjoying the benefits of quiet independent reading and have reported that the program has a settling effect on class behaviour,' Ms Fotia says.

The Independent Reading Program began after PE teacher Matthew Smith participated the Bastow Leading Literacy course.

As part of their study, Mr Smith was required to develop and implement a program within their school - and the Independent Reading Program was born.

'The Bastow Leading Literacy course demonstrates the importance of students reading in order to promote their literacy development, as well as the need to offer students choice in their reading material,' Mr Chapman says.

'We have been using resources that participants have developed or obtained through the Leading Literacy course.'

Ms Fotia says all teachers have embraced the independent reading program - not just English teachers. 'Every single teacher is a teacher of literacy,' Ms Fotia says.

Find out more about the Bastow Leading Literacy course for teachers.

Literacy and Numeracy Strategy

The Literacy and Numeracy Strategy Phase Two: Achieving Excellence in Literacy and Numeracy has been released, Itis Victoria's plan to achieve system-wide success in literacy and numeracy with:

  • key actions for schools and regions to improve literacy and numeracy teaching and learning
  • information about new resources and professional learning for both primary and secondary students.

Strong literacy and numeracy outcomes for all children and young people are a key part of the Education State targets. The Literacy and Numeracy Strategy is a framework to bring together existing and new resources to achieve excellence and equity in literacy and numeracy outcomes for all students. Find out more about Literacy and Numeracy in the Education State